Monday, December 10, 2012

Weight Off My Shoulder

“Everything will be okay in the end; if it's not okay it's not the end.” Unknown

Looks like I’m out of that muddy shade of gray that I was making my way though a few posts ago.  I received the final word from the new round of physical therapy.

First the good news:  my range of motion (ROM), flexibility and strength are very good. 

Bad news:  Very good that is, for someone with their shoulder dangling from the socket.  Very bad for a triathlete who expects to swim and have any semblance of upper body strength. 

Bottom line: it’s as good as it’s going to get without repair.  Perhaps it was overkill, getting 4 opinions instead of the standard 2nd opinion, obsessively charting my progress (or I should say lack of) and working my butt (or I should say my arm) off in PT for almost a year, but now I can say I feel 99.9% sure of my decision to go through with surgery. (Is anyone ever 100% sure of anything?)

So Sports Fans, for the next couple of months, this blog will be more of “The Rehab Chronicles.”  When I set out to start blogging almost 2 years ago, my intent was, first to write for the shear joy of writing.  I also hoped my experiences would be somewhat entertaining, but more important, relatable, and helpful to others starting out in triathlon.  I think sharing and tracking my recovery will be therapeutic for me, but will also hopefully send the message to others recovering from an injury that the road can be long and bumpy, but it’s no different than training for, and completing in an event where there are numerous unknown variables.  I’ve worked with athletes recovering from injury and now I can experience first-hand, the issues that present so frequently such as dealing with the loss of level of fitness, frustration at the uncertainty of recovery progress, fear of re-injury, and a total loss of identity as an athlete.  (And may learn that it’s easier said than done.)

I have to have goals, that’s a given or I’m as aimless as a feather in the wind.  My long term goal is a 100mi triathlon next October.  Fortunately, you can also enter it as a duathlon, so if the arm is still an issue, I can decide about the swim at the last minute. 

My shorter term goals, well, they’re not so grandiose.  For now, my progress will be measured in millimeters, not miles, ROM not RPMs, degrees of movement instead of watts of power generated.  Painfests won’t involve long bricks, but merely gaining back flexibility.  My physical therapist told me I will come to hate her J  The bike trainer that I curse every winter will be my best friend since it will be the only source of cardiovascular conditioning that I’ll be able to do for awhile.  (That should be fun mounting the trainer with one arm affixed to my body.) 

How ironic that I have to get weaker to get stronger.  The surgery will involve repairing the tears in my rotator cuff and reattaching my bicep tendon.  Since I’ll be condemned to a recliner for who knows how long, with nothing but time on my hands and only one hand to type with, I thought I’d keep a video recovery diary.  I can try my hand (my one good hand that is) at embedding videos in my blog.  I know I love watching inspirational videos of people who start off debilitated and rise to the top.  So you can track my evolution from being stoned on pain meds and inert, all the way to toeing the start line of a 100 mile triathlon or duathlon 10 months later.  Somehow I think this journey may have some unexpected twists and turns….

T-7 days til the big event.  Wish me luck.  I’ll be back soon.